This week hasn’t been good for video games. More accurately it hasn’t been good for people who play them, and more accurately even than that, it hasn’t been a good week for me.
Britain. Land of Hope and Glory-holes. Where pregnant, waddling teenagers take up the full width of the pavement with their oversized triplet pushchairs, unaware that their rampant, perpetual humping has filled them to the brim with all manner of grotty infections.
Hoyden About Town is a feminist blog, and you can probably see why they took umbrage with that particular gem. It’s clearly (cackhanded and lazy) parody though, a send up of our most unpleasant rags. The author of the article didn’t seem to realise that and a lot of people, myself included, tried to point this out. I feature pretty heavily in the comments thread, actually, and come off as at best entirely inconsequential and at worst an idiot. So that’s nice.
Anyway, turns out that in fact they did get the joke and, says admin tigtog:
Here’s a point you lot are missing about parody/satire and hipster-irony – what seems obviously satirical to you “sophisticates” may well end up just reinforcing existing prejudices to people with more ferociously jerking knees.
Well, fine. I can certainly see that happening. I have seen that happen. But surely, the only people who’ll see that press release are the people who pay attention to tiny independent developers? People like me? People like me aren’t so bad, I think. I got the joke.
The premier website for people like me, really, is Rock Paper Shotgun. It’s full of clever, irreverent, and altogether super-entertaining writing about games you play on your computer. I’m a fan.
On Thursday, writer Kieron Gillen posted a link to a fairly rubbish and altogether quite innocuous game which lets you gun down catcallers, and the comment thread exploded. Exploded. It turns out people like me aren’t okay. People like me are awful.
People like me think things like
If it’s sexist in one situation, a simple rotational transformation shouldn’t make it any different. And yet, for a large variety of commenters and critics, it does. This gets to be one of those things that I’m really thankful for because it makes idiots easier to find out in the wild.
People like me think there’s some kind of moral equivalence between a game about shooting down the embodiments of patriarchy that are catcallers, and one about choking women, or lynching black people.
They think intimidating women as they walk down the street is a legitimate way of showing attraction or, for that matter, that because the game features something they think the creator thinks such behaviour would be acceptable in real life. Which brings us round to tigtog’s point again but, no, this time the satire is so obvious, so utterly clear that people who don’t get the joke are just Bad People. They’re misogynist cock-ends, and if they need the point explaining to them, there’s no hope for them anyway. What people like me don’t do, apparently, is stop to think for a moment about why someone might make a game like this.
It’s disappointing. There are some excellent and sensible comments on that page, but I expected better than this from everyone writing in, not just some of them.
Call me naive, but I thought I’d gotten away from this horseshit. Clearly I hadn’t. No, instead we come face to face with an old enemy. The 18 to 34 male demographic. You’re most likely thinking, hang on, I’m in that age-and-gender bracket, and I’m not a hateful prick. I’m sure you’re not, and 18 to 34 male is an idea that really has nothing to do with age. 18 to 34 male is Danny Dyer in Zoo. He’s Gears of War, and he’s Xbox Live. 18 to 34 male is the reason playing videogames can be unpleasant if you’re not straight, or you’re not white, or you’re a woman. 18 to 34 male has his fingerprints all over that RPS comments page, and I am fucking sick of the 18 to 34 male.
18 to 34 male is the reason games aren’t taken seriously, and the reason they don’t deserve to be. He’s why every game not for children is about guns and tits and swords and nothing fucking else. Where’s the inventiveness, where’s anything other than shooting? I want some melodrama, or a period piece, maybe a game that’s just about loneliness and heartbreak or happiness and love or all of these things, and I want it made for the mainstream. I want games to fulfill their potential. Too difficult, cry the developers. Besides, it’ll never sell! Why not? Oh, that’s right.
18 to 34 male is why not.